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April 17, 2013
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Basalite Concrete gets creative as it recovers from downturn

Gordon Hinkel is getting creative in his efforts to drum up revenues at Basalite Concrete Products.

Hinkel, general manager of the 60-year-old buildings products company, is holding the first customer yard sale in 12 years this Saturday at the Basalite manufacturing facility at 2600 Boeing Way in Carson City. Basalite will be clearing out thousands of pieces of customer over-runs, job ends and products with slight imperfections at up to 80 percent off retail pricing.

“Over the last 12 years we have accumulated a lot of stuff that is just gathering cobwebs. If it has to do with masonry, we will have it in that sale,” he says.

The yard sale of landscape pavers, concrete masonry blocks, retaining wall blocks, stepping stones and other products is both a small revenue generator and a large house clearing for Basalite, which has seen revenues from its northern Nevada operations plummet about 75 percent since the peak of the building boom in the mid 2000s.

Responding to construction industry demand for masonry products, Basalite in 2007 expanded its Carson City operations with a $16 million state-of-the-art masonry production plant. Crews initially operated the facility 24 hours a day, but since then work has been reduced to four 10-hour shifts. Employment dropped from a peak of 134 to 63 workers spread between the distribution and retail office in Sparks, the manufacturing plant in Carson City and an aggregates quarry in Dayton.

Basalite’s main revenue source was supplying structural concrete masonry blocks for commercial buildings. The uptick in residential construction has provided a slight increase in revenue, but the lack of commercial work in Greater Reno-Sparks continues to plague the company. Basalite is the only masonry product supplier within a 135-mile radius, Hinkel says. Basalite also has facilities in Dixon, Fresno and Tracy, Calif.

“So much of our work was infrastructure work — building hospitals, schools, office buildings, shopping centers,” Hinkel says. “If you took the volume we were doing in 2006 versus the volume we are doing right now, I would love to get back just 50 percent. We have lost 76 percent of our volume since the height of the building boom in 2006.”

Hinkel says that though Basalite has lost volume every year since the peak, 2013 will be the year the company finally sees positive traction in sales in northern Nevada. The company currently is supplying structural block to a retail tire shop going up at Old Virginia Road and Damonte Ranch Parkway in south Reno, but Hinkel says Basalite formerly had 40 to 50 of those types of jobs underway.

The privately held company survived the recession, though, and will continue to be the area’s brickyard.

“It is tough right now, but we have a great,great staff. We weathered the storm, and we are not going anywhere.

“I don’t believe that in my career we will ever see those days again,” adds Hinkel, who has been with the company for 28 years. “But I’d like to get to halfway — and then I’ll have to go out and find people.”

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The Record Courier Updated Apr 29, 2013 06:24PM Published Apr 24, 2013 11:14AM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.